Dubai: Islamabad United opening batsman Sharjeel Khan blew away the hopes of Peshawar Zalmi’s quest for a spot in the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) with a breezy century at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday night. A rejuvenated Islamabad team will now take on the formidable Quetta Gladiators in the final on Tuesday.
Sharjeel became the first century-maker of the PSL with a knock of 117 which came off just 65 balls with 12 boundaries and eight sixes to ensure Islamabad an impressive total of 176 for 3 in 20 overs. Islamabad’s left-arm spinner Imran Khalid, through a deadly four-wicket spell from his three overs, backed by pacer Andre Russell’s three-wicket spell, bowled out Peshawar for 126 to record an emphatic 50-run victory.
So dominating was Sharjeel’s knock that he made all his batting partners mere spectators and bowlers redundant. He raced to his half-century in 28 balls and when Islamabad reached the 100-run mark, he was batting on 75.
Hailing Sharjeel’s knock, Peshawar coach Mohammad Akram said: “We don’t often see in Twenty20 cricket. Throughout the tournament we played well but Sharjeel’s knock was superb, he deserves all the credit. He hit all our good bowlers and blew us away. His innings resembled the ones often played by Chris Gayle.”
Akram then went on to say that Sharjeel is a special cricketer. “We all knew Sharjeel is a special cricketer and when on song, he can tear apart any bowling attack. I am so happy at having witnessed such a knock. When a batsman hits a century in such manner, it is hard for any opponent to get back into the game. All credit to Sharjeel,” added Akram.
The power behind the well-built Sharjeel’s sixes was enormous. His swung Mohammad Asghar with such strength that it crashed into the stands. The second six was hit flat over mid-wicket. The ease with which he whipped Darren Sammy for another six over deep square leg was brilliant. In the 13th over, he hit Wahab Riaz’s exceptionally fast delivery over long on and the ball travelled nearly 35 rows up into the stands. Sharjeel reached his century off a straight six off Afridi. He even upper cut Shaun Tait to third man and tapped him over long on for sixes.
“Chasing such a score after such a superb innings, we should have got off to a flyer without losing wickets but Islamabad bowlers took early wickets. Mohammad Hafeez who could have played the spinners well got out early and Kamran Akmal fell at a crucial time,” said Akram, regretting the one-run defeat to Quetta Gladiators.
“We should have won the first play-off final to Quetta. Had we played a little more sensible cricket we could have won that match,” said Akram.
Brief scores: Islamabad United bt Peshawar Zalmi by 50 runs. Islamabad 176 for 3 in 20 overs (Sharjeel Khan 117, Khalid Latif 28n.o, Shaun Tait 2 for 35) Peshawar (Kamran Akmal 45, Shahid Afridi 38, Imran Khalid 4 for 20, Andre Russell 3 for 37) Man of the match: Sharjeel Khan.